Should we be producing more biofuels to reduce our dependence on foreign oil?


solid, liquid or gas fuel derived from recently dead biological material

fossil fuels are derived from long dead biological material



natural gas

Types of biofuels

Two production strategies:

Grow crops high in sugar (sugar cane, sugar beet, and sweet sorghum) or starch (corn), then use yeast fermentation to produce ethyl alcohol (ethanol).

Grow plants that contain high amounts of vegetable oil, such as oil palm, soybean, algae, which can be burned directly in a diesel engine or processed into biodiesel.

Also possible to make cellulosic ethanol from non-edible plant parts, but this can be difficult to accomplish economically.

Climate impact

Plants used in the production of biofuel removes CO2 from the atmosphere

Theoretically neutral climate impact

Burning fossil fuels returns carbon that was stored beneath the surface for millions of years back into the atmosphere

Net increase of atmospheric carbon

Pros and Cons

May reduce climate impact

Can be produced domestically, thus reducing fuel imports from other countries

Land to grow crops for biofuels is often diverted from food production, leading to higher food prices, or

Land may be converted from native vegetation and wildlife habitat to grow crops for biofuels